When from neighboring restaurant masalas waft airs of cardamom, cumin, and Asafoetida, chiles, curry leaves, ginger, and garlic, your location will be correct, for just uptown on Lexington, between 30th/31st is The Old Print Shop, in place since 1925, decades before those kitchen fragrances took to the air.
After 120 years of operation—48 years in this location—the Print Shop is my hands-down, hands-on museum/gallery of choice; the inspiration of my fantasy of owning a piece by Reginald Marsh, Jean Marin, Martin Lewis (pictured), George Bellows, Thomas Hart Benton, the photographer Margaret Bourke White, or others, more affordable, from an endless list of ‘well-knowns’. I love mid-twentieth century ‘industrial’ or ‘city’ art — be it print, photo or handwork.
The shop is not over-crowded, despite allowing staff to exhort and regale you with what they know about what you see. And there is plenty to see, both downstairs and up. After a visit, ownership of a piece seems less important than the comfort felt knowing my next month’s visit will be welcomed by staff. Upstairs, in addition to all else, is an interesting, deep and affordable collection of war and anti-war works on paper, worth a look—even consideration—for purchase.
One thing about acquiring at this ‘level’ in the art business is that whatever you pay is likely to be recoverable, at least a large portion of it, by re-selling, should you need to get your money back. The market for recognized work is that strong.